Welcome to MSF Field Research


MSF is known for its humanitarian medical work, but it has also produced important research based on its field experience. It has published articles in over 100 peer-reviewed journals and they have often changed clinical practice and been used for humanitarian advocacy. These articles are available for free, in full text - no login required. We sincerely thank the publishers for their permission to archive on this site.


Published Research and Commentary
Conference Abstracts
Programme Descriptions
Research Resources


  • Antiretroviral Therapy Adherence Interruptions Are Associated With Systemic Inflammation Among Ugandans Who Achieved Viral Suppression

    Musinguzi, N; Castillo-Mancilla, J; Morrow, M; Byakwaga, H; Mawhinney, S; Burdo, TH; Boum, Y; Muzoora, C; Bwana, BM; Siedner, MJ; et al. (Lippincott, Williams & Wilkins, 2019-12-01)
    Background: Residual systemic inflammation, which is associated with non-AIDS clinical outcomes, may persist despite viral suppression. We assessed the effect of antiretroviral therapy (ART) adherence interruptions on systemic inflammation among Ugandans living with HIV who were virally suppressed. Setting: We evaluated adults initiating first-line ART at a regional referral hospital clinic in Mbarara, Uganda. Methods: Plasma concentrations of interleukin-6 (IL-6), D-dimer, soluble sCD14, sCD163, the kynurenine/tryptophan (K/T) ratio, and CD8+ T-cell activation (HLA-DR+/CD38+ coexpression) were measured at baseline and 6 months after ART initiation among participants who achieved viral suppression (<400 copies/mL) at 6 months. ART adherence was monitored electronically. Time spent in an adherence interruption was computed as the percentage of days when the running average adherence was ≤10%. We fit adjusted linear regressions to evaluate the effect of time spent in an interruption on the log-transformed plasma concentrations of the inflammation biomarkers. Results: Of 282 participants, 70% were women, and the median age was 34 years. At baseline, median CD4 and median log viral load were 135 cells per microliter and 5.1 copies per milliliter, respectively. In the adjusted analysis, a running average adherence of <10% was associated with higher sCD14 (+3%; P < 0.008), sCD163 (+5%; P = 0.002), D-dimer (+10%; P = 0.007), HLA-DR+/CD8+ (+3%; P < 0.025), IL-6 (+14%; P = 0.008), and K:T ratio (+5%; P = 0.002). These findings were largely robust to adjustment for average adherence, as well as higher thresholds of running average adherence, albeit with decreased statistical significance. Conclusions: Increased time spent in adherence interruptions is associated with increased levels of inflammation, despite viral suppression above and beyond average adherence.
  • Prevalence and correlates of low serum calcium in late pregnancy: A cross sectional study in the Nkongsamba Regional Hospital; Littoral Region of Cameroon

    Ajong, AB; Kenfack, B; Ali, IM; Yakum, MN; Telefo, PB (Public Library of Science, 2019-11-07)
    Introduction Women from low and middle income countries are generally more likely to have sub-optimal calcium intake. The objective of this study was to assess serum calcium disorders and correlates in late pregnancy. Methods We conducted from December 2018 to April 2019, a cross-sectional hospital-based study targeting pregnant women in late pregnancy in the Nkongsamba Regional Hospital. Data were collected by measurement of parameters (weight, height, blood pressure and foetal birthweight), administration of a semi-structured questionnaire and analysis of blood samples collected from each participant. Absorption spectrophotometry was used to measure serum calcium and albumin concentrations and corrected serum calcium calculated from the Payne’s equation. With a statistical significant threshold set at p-value = 0.05, the odds ratio was used as a measure of the strength of association between hypocalcaemia and maternofoetal variables. Results We enrolled a total of 354 consenting participants with a mean age of 27.41±5.84 years. The prevalence of hypocalcaemia in late pregnancy was 58.76 [53.42–63.90]%. The rate of calcium supplementation in pregnancy was 57.63[52.28–62.80]% with a mean duration of supplementation of 3.69±1.47 months. When controlled for marital status, age, level of education, and gestational age at delivery, pregnant women with systolic blood pressures below 130 mmHg were significantly less likely to have hypocalcaemia than their counterparts with higher systolic blood pressures (Adjusted Odds Ratio = 0.41[0.18–0.89], p-value = 0.020). No statistically significant associations were found between diastolic blood pressure, body mass index, foetal birth weight and hypocalcaemia. Conclusion Hypocalcaemia in late pregnancy is highly prevalent (59%) among women accessing reproductive services at the Nkongsamba Regional Hospital. There is also a wide gap in calcium supplementation compared to World Health Organization recommendations. Hypocalcaemia is significantly associated to higher systolic blood pressure in pregnancy. Systematic calcium supplementation and consumption of high calcium containing locally available meals should be encouraged.
  • Diagnostic sensitivity of SILVAMP TB-LAM (FujiLAM) point-of-care urine assay for extra-pulmonary tuberculosis in people living with HIV

    Kerkhoff, AD; Sossen, B; Schutz, C; Reipold, EI; Trollip, A; Moreau, E; Schumacher, SG; Burton, R; Ward, A; Nicol, MP; et al. (European Respiratory Society, 2019-11-07)
  • Maternal health after Ebola: unmet needs and barriers to healthcare in rural Sierra Leone

    Elston, JWT; Danis, K; Gray, N; West, K; Lokuge, K; Black, B; Stringer, B; Jimmisa, AS; Biankoe, A; Sanko, MO; et al. (Oxford University Press, 2019-11-07)
    Sierra Leone has the world’s highest estimated maternal mortality. Following the 2014–16 Ebola outbreak, we described health outcomes and health-seeking behaviour amongst pregnant women to inform health policy. In October 2016–January 2017, we conducted a sequential mixed-methods study in urban and rural areas of Tonkolili District comprising: household survey targeting women who had given birth since onset of the Ebola outbreak; structured interviews at rural sites investigating maternal deaths and reporting; and in-depth interviews (IDIs) targeting mothers, community leaders and health workers. We selected 30 clusters in each area: by random GPS points (urban) and by random village selection stratified by population size (rural). We collected data on health-seeking behaviours, barriers to healthcare, childbirth and outcomes using structured questionnaires. IDIs exploring topics identified through the survey were conducted with a purposive sample and analysed thematically. We surveyed 608 women and conducted 29 structured and 72 IDIs. Barriers, including costs of healthcare and physical inaccessibility of healthcare facilities, delayed or prevented 90% [95% confidence interval (CI): 80–95] (rural) vs 59% (95% CI: 48–68) (urban) pregnant women from receiving healthcare. Despite a general preference for biomedical care, 48% of rural and 31% of urban women gave birth outside of a health facility; of those, just 4% and 34%, respectively received skilled assistance. Women expressed mistrust of healthcare workers (HCWs) primarily due to payment demanded for ‘free’ healthcare. HCWs described lack of pay and poor conditions precluding provision of quality care. Twenty percent of women reported labour complications. Twenty-eight percent of villages had materials to record maternal deaths. Pregnant women faced important barriers to care, particularly in rural areas, leading to high preventable mortality and morbidity. Women wanted to access healthcare, but services available were often costly, unreachable and poor quality. We recommend urgent interventions, including health promotion, free healthcare access and strengthening rural services to address barriers to maternal healthcare.
  • Distribution of advanced HIV disease from three high HIV prevalence settings in Sub-Saharan Africa: a secondary analysis data from three population-based cross-sectional surveys in Eshowe (South Africa), Ndhiwa (Kenya) and Chiradzulu (Malawi)

    Chihana, ML; Huerga, H; Van Cutsem, G; Ellman, T; Goemaere, E; Waniala, S; Masiku, C; Szumilin, E; Etard, JF; Maman, D; et al. (Taylor & Francis, 2019-11-04)
    Background: Despite substantial progress in antiretroviral therapy (ART) scale up, some people living with HIV (PLHIV) continue to present with advanced HIV disease, contributing to ongoing HIV-related morbidity and mortality. Objective: We aimed to quantify population-level estimates of advanced HIV from three high HIV prevalence settings in Sub-Saharan Africa. Methods: Three cross-sectional surveys were conducted in (Ndhiwa (Kenya): September–November 2012), (Chiradzulu (Malawi): February–May 2013) and (Eshowe (South Africa): July–October 2013). Eligible individuals 15–59 years old who consented were interviewed at home followed by rapid HIV test and CD4 count test if tested HIV-positive. Advanced HIV was defined as CD4 < 200 cells/µl. We used logistic regression to identify patient characteristics associated with advanced HIV. Results: Among 18,991 (39.2% male) individuals, 4113 (21.7%) tested HIV-positive; 385/3957 (9.7% (95% Confidence Interval [CI]: 8.8–10.7)) had advanced HIV, ranging from 7.8% (95%CI 6.4–9.5) Chiradzulu (Malawi) to 11.8% (95%CI 9.8–14.2) Ndhiwa (Kenya). The proportion of PLHIV with advanced disease was higher among men 15.3% (95% CI 13.2–17.5) than women 7.5% (95%CI 6.6–8.6) p < 0.001. Overall, 62.7% of all individuals with advanced HIV were aware of their HIV status and 40.3% were currently on ART. Overall, 65.6% of individuals not on ART had not previously been diagnosed with HIV, while only 29.6% of those on ART had been on ART for ≥6 months. Individuals with advanced HIV disease were more likely to be men (adjusted Odds Ratio [aOR]; 2.1 (95%CI 1.7–2.6), and more likely not to be on ART (aOR; 1.7 (95%CI 1.3–2.1). Conclusion: In our study, about 1 in 10 PLHIV had advanced HIV with nearly 40% of them unaware of their HIV status. However, a substantial proportion of patients with advanced HIV were established on ART. Our findings suggest the need for a dual focus on alternative testing strategies to identify PLHIV earlier as well as improving ART retention.

View more